It's never been a better time to be in sales, unless of course you're still cold calling. The technology stacks available to all of us in sales have taken fantastic steps forward in recent years. Companies like Salesforce, InsideSales, Zoho, PandaDoc, HubSpot, and LeadLander have been expanding their tool sets and enabling sales personnel to apply much more intelligence and efficiency to their sales process. Overall, software advancements have made tasks that were once manual and cumbersome easily accomplished while providing previously unimaginable insights and capabilities.
As the owner of a small digital sales and marketing agency, I live in this technologically advanced world every day. I still get to do a lot of sales in my role and my schedule is continually booked with sales calls with prospects at various stages of the pipeline. I'm challenged to execute at a high level while staying organized and efficient so I don't blow a deal or let other responsibilities drop. As a digital agency offering sales and marketing alignment solutions, I've spoiled my employees with the best technology on the market. The way I see it, if we don't find success by leveraging sales enablement technology to grow our business we shouldn't sell that strategy to others. So, we practice what we preach.
How Our Sales System Works
I want to demonstrate some of features and benefits we have at our finger tips because I know most sales people don't have the same weapons. I'm also well aware of how empowering a sales system like we have can be, and how much it can affect individual and organizational results.
Leads come to us, we don't come to them
There are very few sales people in the world that enjoy hardcore prospecting. Even fewer are effective at it, especially these days. Caller ID, spam filters, CAN SPAM polices, and a general aversion to answering the phone has hampered our ability to proactively reach decision makers.
We saw this writing on the wall about six years ago and made serious changes to our approach. We began investing heavily into our online presence and got serious about executing an inbound marketing campaign. We don't prospect anymore. We don't advertise. People looking for the services we offer find us all over the Internet. When they find us they're presented a lot of options to self-identify with us.
image credit: inbound.org
The result is a steady flow of sales-ready leads filling out forms on our website and calling in to talk through their options. We have more leads than our full time sales person can handle and that means Adrian doesn't have to cold call. We don't have to buy shitty email lists. We don't have to spend a bunch on advertising, and we certainly don't go to trade shows or conferences.
This isn't a quick-fix solution, but when you have leads coming to you it allows you to spend a lot more time with active opportunities. That's a lot more fun and engaging than getting kicked in the face all day on the phones. The return on aged tactics like cold calling is diminishing. There is so much information available to buyers that they've completely their expectations. People don't want to be sold, they want to buy. They have a lot of demand on their time and don't want to talk to a sales rep until they're ready.
Our outbound efforts are simply falling on more deaf ears than ever before in the Age of the Consumer. If your organization would invest in new methods of approaching buyers how they'd like to be approached you'd be filling your pipeline much more efficiently, and painlessly. You'd close a lot more deals too.
How we evaluate prospects & prepare to sell
Not all leads are created equally, and each needs to be vetted before they're contacted. If we have any degree of sophistication, our leads should be evaluated closely against our ideal client profiles. As sales professionals it's our role to sign the right business for our organization, not just any business. Without behavior and demographic intelligence and the tools to evaluate further you're simply operating at a deficit.
We evaluate prospects through our use of HubSpot's CRM and sales enablement technology. The combined technology stack gives us plenty of opportunities to accent our sales efforts and track open opportunities. This allows us access to features and insights beyond that of the standard CRM. Let's take a closer look at how we manage opportunities with this technology stack. If you want to see a little more about what's possible the video is definitely worth a quick watch.
Every email we send is tracked. We get notifications at the exact time a prospect opens our emails. We can tell when, how many times, from what kind of device, and what city they're in at the time. The notifications tool gives us deeper intelligence too, providing consumption data on links and documents.
Every sales team needs an adequate technology to manage opportunities. A capable CRM is the answer. There are dozens of perfectly capable CRM platforms on the market that allow teams to manage their pipelines. Many sales team have one at their disposal but some don't. Spreadsheets do not qualify, sorry. If you're in sales and you don't have a CRM you're at a massive deficit. Your organization isn't investing in your success, and they need to.
How sales enablement software helps us sell
Many sales people struggle when it becomes time to provide the weight. They have claims to substantiate, credibility to build, and plans to lay out. They could really use some compelling sales materials that don't look like amateur power point presentations. They struggle to truly differentiate their offering and often race to put a contract in prospect's hands instead of a compelling proposal for services that enriches previous discussions and compels action. Enter PandaDoc.
We recently implemented this sales enablement software and it's changed the way we present throughout the sales cycle. Its capabilities have changed the way we go to market and provided us some tremendous advantages we didn't have before. We used to struggle with several things I'm sure many of you experience as you attempt to sell your services.
- Our proposals were a little bland. You can only make a Word doc or PowerPoint look so good. You can't really make them stand out, and you can't add the type of features and functionality that we currently use in PandaDoc. We knew there was opportunity to improve but before we discovered PandaDoc we really didn't know where to turn.
- They took a long time to build. Organizations can template out their sales process in a Word doc all they want, there's still a lot of work to do. Having to copy and paste contact information from a CRM or spreadsheet and reference archives for similar proposal elements was all a reality to us. Our templates weren't adequate and we were paying a price for it.
- We didn't have the right checks and balances. Once a sales rep gets through the process of creating sales documents the work still isn't done. Most organizations have an approval process from management before proposals go out the door. Sales is required to send proposals to management for review and wait. Management is busy, out of town, and distracted. Often the result is waiting many days or even weeks for approval, even to eventually have them rubber stamped without truly being reviewed or requests to rework and rewind the process yet again. In our case it was actually worse. We were finding too many proposals were being built and presented without proper review at all. The resulting closed-won deals sometimes revealed small errors to scope and pricing that were costing us profitability and putting our execution teams into difficult situations.
- We didn't have the proper quality control. Sales people aren't always the best at massaging formatting, tables, and graphics. I know many of you can relate here. We've all realized silly errors in our proposal docs that were built in haste, after it was too late. Leaving a previous prospect's name throughout proposals because you copied and edited a previous version is a common mistake that we certainly made. Short cuts and changes made in haste presented poorly to our prospects, leaving a poor impression and undoubtedly costing us business.
- They were difficult to deliver, track, and manage. Once we finally built, presented, and handed over our documents we were completely in the dark. We didn't know if what we put together was ever reviewed, consumed, or considered again. We were left to chase prospects for status updates with voice mails and ineffective email messages that might look familiar.
Subject: Just checking in....
Message: Hi Sue, I hope you're well. I just wanted to reach out and check in on how you're coming with our proposal. Have you had a chance to review it in it's entirety yet? Have you shared it with the CEO? Do you have any questions for me? We can't wait to get started, if you can just sign the stupid thing I'll jam this on our operations team, collect my commission, and move on to the next one. Let me know, all my best. Eric."
PandaDoc allowed us to address these weaknesses and provide more value
- Our proposals are now completely dynamic. They include video, testimonials, portfolio pieces, case studies, and team bios. Everything a prospect needs to make a confident decision. We've been able to effectively illustrate that we're the best fit to fulfill their needs with tidy web-based documents that can be forwarded, downloaded, and signed with a click of a button. We know exactly who's viewed each document, how long they spent on individual pages, and can automate reminders without direct outreach.
- Active selling time has increased. We spend less time building proposals and more time evaluating and pursuing opportunities. PandaDoc allows organizations like ours, (and yours) to develop tool sets for sales people to access throughout the sales cycle.
- Detailed catalogs of services and products can be built to draw from when customizing and building proposals
- Various credibility and educational elements can be
constructed and loaded to a library for future reference and customization of documents without the need for creation or referencing legacy documents
- Templates can be created and styled to represent your company, branding, and style for every possible sales scenario you'll encounter with opportunities.
- Sales documents can be built directly from pre-built templates that include personalization tokens that draw directly from CRM records
- Tokens ensure accuracy and workflows get approval from management efficiently. PandaDoc integrates seamlessly with HubSpot's CRM. This integration allows us to originate sales proposals directly from their CRM contact records. All of their company and contact data is automatically populated into proposals before we lift a finger. All the fine print is auto-populated, leaving no risk of messing up the fine print and preventing us from even having to invest the time to enter the data. Once it's ready, we use the workflow feature to send to management for approval directly from the CRM. They're notified immediately via email and we can see whether they've opened the message or not. Because our proposals can't go out without their approval any issue that is discovered down the road is clearly no longer our responsibility. If you'd like to get a better idea of this tremendous sales enablement software package I've loaded their explainer video:
Putting Our Entire Sales Enablement System Into Action
Our entire sales process is originated, managed, and executed within our software technology stack. Every action, activity, note, deal, and opportunity is tracked. We can report on activity and results, allowing us to interpret the data and improve future efforts. Visibility into our sales system and team has absolutely improved both our focus, and our results.
We can track sales performance at-a-glance
We can track value of closed and pending business at-a-glance
We can build sales forecasts and track comparative performance at-a-glance
We can track the status of our proposal documents at-a-glance
When Is Your Organization Going to Give You The Tools You Need to Succeed?
If you're selling without stuff like this you're operating at a deficit. You might be good enough to overcome this deficit, but you shouldn't have to. If I were you I'd make a play to the organization to enable you to maximize your effectiveness. All of your performance and compensation numbers will go up, I promise.
If you want help coming up with a plan to approach management with your needs we should talk. Click on the image below, fill out the form, and start a conversation with us about how we can help you sell a real solution up the ladder. Or, you could just pick up the phone and make the call, sales people are supposed to be good at that.